Friday, April 09, 2010


by Bente Gallagher (yes, I'm Jennie Bentley too...)

Looks like we have a free day today, with no posts. Let me remedy that.

I've got a new book coming in June, the first in a new series. This is actually the book that started it all, the one that caused an editor at Berkley Prime Crime to offer me the opportunity to write the DIY series. It's a case of writing what you know: as a brand new real estate agent in Nashville, Tennessee, going into empty houses with strangers every day of my life, I got to thinking about what might be lurking inside some of these houses. Escaped convicts, crazed axe-murderers, homeless junkies, dead bodies...

That's how A Cutthroat Business was born. Here's the elevator pitch:

Everyone has warned new-minted Realtor® and Southern Belle Savannah Martin that real estate is a cutthroat business. But Savannah doesn't take the warning seriously... until an early morning phone call sends her to an empty house on the other side of town, where she finds herself standing over the butchered body of a competitor, face to face with the boy her mother always warned her about. Now Savannah must figure out who killed real estate queen Brenda Puckett, make a success of her new career, and avoid being killed - or kissed - by Rafe Collier, all before the money in her savings account runs out and she has to go back to selling make-up at the mall. 

Library Journal, bless their little hearts, say that "The hilarious dialog and the tension between Savannah and Rafe will delight fans of chick-lit mysteries and romantic suspense." 

Check it out:


Forewarned is forearmed, they say, and in justice to — well, everyone! — I guess I must admit that I was forewarned. It’s just that when people told me that real estate is a cutthroat business, I didn’t think they meant it literally.

My name is Savannah Martin, and I sell houses. Or I should say that I try, because I’m brand new at my job, and truth be told, haven’t sold so much as a lean-to yet. I should have realized, when the call came in about 101 Potsdam Street, that it was too good to be true.

It was about 8:45 in the morning on the first Saturday in August, and I was at work. As usual. For the past six weeks I’d been on call pretty much 24/7 — not exactly what I’d had in mind when I looked forward to setting my own hours — and I haunted the office like the proverbial ghoul.

I guess I should also mention that I didn’t actually have anything else to do. I used to work at the make-up counter at the mall, but when I got my real estate license, I quit my job and started living off my savings in the hope that my dwindling bank balance would give me the incentive I needed to succeed. So far it hadn’t worked, and if something didn’t change soon, I’d have to crawl to Dillard’s to beg for my old job back. And that was assuming it was still available, with the way the economy was going these days.

But that was why, when the phone rang, I snatched it up on the very first ring, and had to take a couple of steadying breaths before I put the receiver to my ear. “Good morning. Thank you for calling Walker Lamont Realty. Savannah Martin speaking. How may I help you?”

“Savannah Martin?” a male voice repeated.

I nodded. “Yes, sir.”

I waited for him to comment, but instead he just continued chummily, like we were old friends, “See, Savannah, it’s like this. I was supposed to be meeting Miz Puckett at eight, to see 101 Potsdam Street, but I’ve sat here for 45 minutes, and I ain’t seen hide or hair of her.”

“I haven’t seen her this morning, either,” I answered, my heart starting to beat faster. Someone was interested in buying 101 Potsdam? And my colleague and competitor Brenda Puckett had dropped the ball...? “Though it isn’t like her to be late.” Much more like her to be early, so she could feel superior when you merely showed up on time. “Are you able to wait while I try to call her?”

My caller said he was, and I put him on hold before dialing Brenda’s cell phone, and when there was no answer, her home number. There was no answer there either. I got back on the line. “Sir? I’m sorry, I can’t get in touch with her. But if... that is... I mean...”

My tongue tripped over itself in its eagerness to offer help. The caller didn’t say anything, but I could sense amusement through the line. I gritted my teeth and tried again. “If you’d still like to see the house, I’d be happy to come out and open the door for you...?”

I held my breath. The Italianate Victorian and surrounding two acres were listed for almost a quarter million USD, a fairly high price for Nashville, Tennessee. The commission would pay my rent and keep me in gasoline and Ramen noodles for the rest of the year, at least.

“You sure you can spare the time, darlin’?”

I assured him, with all the sincerity I could muster, that there was nothing I’d rather do than be of service to him. He chuckled, but didn’t comment. Even so, the ripeness of the chuckle brought a blush to my cheeks. I ignored it, promising him I’d be there in fifteen minutes, and then I wasted the first thirty seconds of that time doing a (premature) victory dance before I grabbed my purse and headed out the door. If I was going to get from the office to Potsdam Street in the fourteen and a half minutes left to me, I would have to get my tail in gear and keep my foot glued to the gas pedal the whole way.

So there you have it. The first couple pages of A Cutthroat Business, for your delectation. Whatcha think?


Dru said...

I like it and I look forward to reading it.

Laurissa said...

It sounds great! I'm looking forward to reading it in June.

Joyce Tremel said...

Looks like a great read! I'll have to add it to my ever-growing list.

Jenna said...

Thanks, guys. It's a fun book, if I do say so myself. Sometime I need to do one of those 'my book the movie' posts, with pictures, for some eye-candy. ;-) Maybe I'll do that the next time we have an empty slot...

Patg said...

Cutthroat business, oh yeah, I know what that's about. Sell, sell, sell, quota, quota, quota.
Can't wait to read it.
I make a joking reference to real estate sales in my book.

Jenna said...

I never was much of a real estate agent. My DH on the other hand is awesome. He has closed more transactions so far this year than I did in my entire career, practically. One of the running jokes of the series is how difficult it is for poor Savannah to make a commission. That make-up counter is hanging over her head still in book 3.

M Pax said...

Looks like a fun read. I'll have to see how it ends. :)

Jenna said...

Please do!